As Hunting Season Returns, Rule Changes Cover Lower Peninsula

The first hunters of deer season get to hit the blind this weekend and with them come a new set of rules from the state.

This weekend is the Liberty Hunt, open for youth and disabled hunters, it is officially the first deer season of the year.

This weekend’s group will be the first to hunt under this year’s set of rules and regulations from the DNR

“Reading that digest and understanding it can be very confusing,” says Kasey Thren, owner of Complete Deer Management.

Every year there are changes to the hunting regulations in Michigan. But this year there is a big one, all baiting is banned in the Lower Peninsula, in every county. Food plots are still allowed for hunters.

“What I noticed too is, without baiting, the deer are acting a little bit more natural,” says Thren, “To where if you have a bait pile they are always on alert.”

Outside of the baiting ban, there are also changes to a section of the chronic wasting disease area. Mecosta, Montcalm and Ionia Counties also have antler point restrictions for a research project to see the impact on the spread of the disease.

“The bucks have to be four points on one side and they are encouraging to a higher doe harvest,” says Thren.

These rules and regulations are put in place to manage the deer herd and protect it from the spread of CWD but one of the biggest hurdles isn’t getting people to follow the rules, but changing the mindset of hunters in Northern Michigan

“We’re killing approximately four bucks per square mile and only 2.7 does per square mile,” says Thren.

In many areas, hunters will be allowed up to 10 doe tags this year. Usually experienced hunters wait only for that trophy buck, while the DNR wants to harvest as many doe as possible.

“We desperately need the hunter’s help because the DNR are not out there actually shooting the deer,” says Thren, “We don’t want that to happen. Let us hunters to do it for them because we’re not going to eradicate the deer and we never will.”

Despite the changes, ignorance isn’t an excuse. Being a responsible hunter means staying up to date on the rules.

“Again, they change regularly,” says Thren, “We just do the best to adapt.”